Mt Kenashi is a famous mountain but not part of the original one hundred. It is part of the famous two hundred mountains, which isn’t bad considering that there are thousands of mountains in Japan. It sits opposite Mt Fuji and thus has some excellent viewpoints of the volcano. In consequence, due to the 2 above factors, there are quite a few people climbing this mountain.
HOW TO GET THERE: The main drawback is that this mountain is tough to get to from Tokyo. You will need to shell out 5000 yen to take the Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Shinfuji station in Shizuoka (about an hour), and then add another 1300 yen for the bus to the Asagiri Green Park entrance (also about an hour). There are a lot of great views of Mt Fuji on the way.
However the way back is cheaper. At the end of the hike you can catch the bus in the same direction and get off in Kawaguchiko. From there the train is 3000 yen back to Tokyo or you can take a bus to Shinjuku station for less than 2000 yen. However if you are going back on a weekend, beware of traffic jams. There are 2 reasons I didn’t go through Kawaguchiko on the way there: first the bus going the other direction would get me to the start of the hike half an hour later and second the train to Otsuki (where you need to change for Kawaguchiko) is so crowded that you may have to stand.
THE ROUTE: Once again I was the only person to get off the bus. Actually that is not entirely correct – a lady hiker hopped off the same time as me, however I soon left her behind. It seems that most people come here by car. I had to walk along a flat road for about half an hour to reach the base of the mountain and the start of the hiking trail. The view of Mt Kenashi towering above me was impressive and I wondered if I really was going to be able to manage this apparently long and steep 1100 meter climb. On the way I passed a wide and grassy camp site on my right with some excellent views of Mt Fuji. I definitely want to camp here some time in the future.
At the end of the long asphalt road I turned left following the sign for Mt Kenashi. Eventually I entered the forest, passed numerous parked cars and started climbing along a rock path. There were two main paths up Mt Kenashi and I chose the shorter one so that I would have enough time to take the long ridge route down. The path was divided into 10 stations each marked with a sign, similar to the Mt Fuji stations. I passed quite a few people going up and down the mountain. The weather was sunny and not too cold for a November day although it seemed that autumn was already over on this mountain.
As expected the climb was long and seemingly endless. Similar to when I was climbing Mt Takanosuya in the mist, the top ridge always seemed to be slipping away from grasp, always just beyond my level of vision. Every time the path levelled and I thought I was there, it would surprise me by rising steeply again. I was slowly rising above the ridge to the left and right and there was no end in sight to what was increasingly starting to look like some kind of spire.
At last I reached a small rocky outcrop that was marked as a viewpoint of Mt Fuji. I decided to have an early lunch there, not because I was especially hungry but because the view was fabulous, there was a comfortable unoccupied sitting spot and I wasn’t sure about how comfortably I would be able to sit at the summit. However I only got past my first sandwich when I was forced to flee because of an annoying trio of hikers that wouldn’t stop blabbering behind me while taking photos of the view.
From this point I reached the top ridge reached quite quickly. I overtook a lady hiker for the second time, who couldn’t figure it out since she hadn’t seen me taking my lunch break on the rocky outcrop earlier on. From here on it was easy stroll to the peak although interestingly enough just by getting on the ridge, the temperature had dropped considerably and I was now breathing mist. At nearly 2000m, winter had arrived.
There were plenty of people at the summit but I still managed to find a decent spot to sit down. However the view of Mt Fuji wasn’t as good from here. Before I could tuck in however an older but experienced looking hiker told me in passable English that if I continued ten more minutes along the ridge line I would reach a much better spot for lunch with a 360 view that would include Mt Fuji and the south Alps. That seemed like a very attractive proposition, so after having him take the obligatory photo of me and the summit marker I set off to search for this amazing lunch spot.
I never found it and one hour later I reached the next summit Amagadake 1771 m, the last viewpoint before going down the mountain and where I decided to have a late lunch. I was lucky that I had actually eaten before reaching the top since there were literally no good sitting spots with a view along the ridge. Even when I had a 360 degree view the grass on either side was just too high to sit down. I guess the older hiker had walked the ridge in other seasons when the grass hadn’t been so high. The ridge was a mix of forest (cold) and tall grasses (warm). The views of Mt Fuji were the best I had ever seen since the sun was behind me and it was easy to see all the details of the snow covered top. Also there were far less people walking the ridge since most people just went up and down Mt Kenashi the same way.
I found a rectangular block of stone perfect for sitting and moved it into the sun and sat down to munch on the rest of my lunch while gazing at Mt Fuji. I couldn’t stay long however since I had a bus to catch. In the end because I took some more photos of Mt Fuji I left a little behind schedule and had to run downhill to catch up. It didn’t really matter since this was easily the ugliest portion of the hike. Soon I could see lake Motsuko on my left but too many branches in the way meant that I couldn’t get a good picture. Oddly enough I had the same kind of hallucinations going down as when going up. Three times I thought I had reached the lowest point between 2 peaks only to discover that the path dipped further down.
Finally I reached the flat part between two peaks and at another view point for Mt Fuji, I saw the escape path for the bus stop leading down to the right. Here I met a male hiker on his way up so I got him to take a photo of myself with Mt Fuji. He told me that he was going to camp at the top of the mountain so that he could see the sun rising above the summit crater of Mt Fuji the next day, also called Diamond Fuji.
After a short while I reached a junction for the Tokai Nature trail which I would like to walk one day. I had to half run half walk the last flat portion of the way and finally reached the bus stop with less than five minutes to spare. The bus back was empty at first but filled up quickly at the next stop. Despite that it was an enjoyable ride since you could see Mt Fuji from time to time.
CONCLUSION: A difficult but rewarding hike with fantastic views up a famous mountain that will see the crowds melt away during the second part.
Climbability rate: 6.2